Polymetal shares down as gold miner scraps final dividend

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Small toy figure and gold imitation are seen in front of the Polymetal logo in this illustration

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian gold and silver producer Polymetal said on Thursday it had decided to cancel the final dividend for 2021 and recommended no interim dividend payment for 2022 due to lower cash flows, sending its shares in London down 11%.

Polymetal has not been directly targeted by Western sanctions imposed on Moscow since it sent thousands of troops to Ukraine in February.

However, its net earnings adjusted for impairment and rouble fluctuations fell to $203 million in January-June from $422 million a year ago with lower sales, the miner said in a statement. It also raised its forecast for 2022 production costs.

Future dividend payments will depend on the company's ability to unblock part the 22% of its shares frozen in the sanctions-hit Russian National Settlement Depository (NSD), Polymetal said. Owners of the shares held via NSD, Russia's domestic paying agent, are unable to receive dividends now.

For these investors, Polymetal proposed exchanging the shares from electronic to certificated form, the miner said, adding this option would not solve the problem for holders of 11% of the shares due to sanctions restrictions on Moscow and retaliatory Moscow restrictions.

Polymetal also said the idea of a business restructuring, which could focus it on its assets in Kazakhstan and spin off the Russian ones, had been hit by Moscow's August decree to freeze sale of certain Russian assets, including gold mining firms, if they are controlled by residents of "unfriendly" countries - unless a special presidential approval is granted.

To ease the process, the miner is currently considering changing the jurisdiction of the parent company - Polymetal International Plc - from Jersey to a "friendly" territory, it said. No final decision has been made.

(Reporting by Polina Devitt; Editing by Mark Potter)